As a Missouri wrongful death lawyer, I was saddened to read about the death of a seven-month-old baby at a Merriam daycare. According to the Kansas City Star, Johnson County prosecutors announced Oct. 28 that they would not file any criminal charges in the girl’s death. For many families who suddenly lose loved ones to preventable accidents, a prosecutor’s decision not to file criminal charges can leave the family feeling that those responsible for the accident have not been held accountable. While families whose loved ones are taken from them always feel their loss, families find closure when a civil case requires the responsible party to admit guilt.
Aniyah Boone, age seven months, was in a playpen at Debbie’s Daycare center on May 31, 2009. An eight-year-old boy tried to take her out of the playpen, but dropped her on her head. She was rushed to a hospital but died. An autopsy blamed the death on blunt force injuries to her head, complicated by liver damage that probably came from resuscitation attempts. State authorities suspended operation at the daycare on June 1, 2009. In fact, the article suggests that the incident, and the evidence of neglect it produced, have closed the business for good. In April 2010, the daycare’s owner agreed not to operate a daycare as long as her name is on the state abuse and neglect registry. The announcement that prosecutors would not file any criminal charges followed.
While prosecutors apparently decided the baby’s death was an accident, this was not the kind of accident that no one could have predicted. From the brief description given by the newspaper, it looks like it could have been prevented if the adults responsible for supervising children had actually been supervising. Parents send their children to daycares under the belief that they are leaving their children in the care of adults who are trained and licensed in this line of work. Parents do not send their children, especially infants, to daycares to be cared for by other children, who may not have the strength to lift a growing baby or the experience to know that dropping a baby is dangerous. The adults operating and employed by the daycare are responsible for directly caring for all of the children, not delegating that care to older children, and for managing their work so that no child is left unsupervised. Failing to live up to those duties constitutes negligence.
In my work as a St. Louis wrongful death attorney, I help families of those killed by others’ negligence and carelessness hold the people who hurt them accountable. Whether or not the criminal justice system holds the negligent party responsible, the civil justice system allows victims and their families to recover compensation for the personal and financial harm they have suffered. Victims and their families can sue negligent people or organizations for medical and funeral costs, pain and suffering, harm to their relationships, and lost quality of life and past and future wages. I recognize that no amount of money can ever replace a lost loved one, but holding the negligent person responsible can help families gain closure and replace income that was lost unexpectedly and permanently.
It is important that families who choose to pursue a civil claim contact a southern Illinois wrongful death lawyer right away. In Missouri, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the death, and in Illinois, the suit generally must be filed within two years of learning about the wrongful act. Contacting an attorney as early as possible makes it possible to meet these requirements and helps the attorney investigate the death while crucial evidence is still reasonably easy to find and preserve. If you or a loved one have been hurt by someone else’s negligence, please call Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. We help victims and their families learn about their rights and pursue justice through the civil courts. You can call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400, or send us a message online.